Santidhamma Forest Hermitage
(Watpah Santidhamma) United Kingdom
|Ven. Phra Bhavanaviteht (Luangpor Khemadhammo) O.B.E.
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Phra Bhavanaviteht trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech & Drama in London and at Drama Centre, London.
Phra Bhavanaviteht is the Abbot of Wat Pah Santidhamma, The Forest Hermitage in Warwickshire. He has been active in prison chaplaincy and the Buddhist chaplain to a number of prisons in England over the past 35 years. He is the Spiritual Director of Angulimala, the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Organisation that he and others founded in 1985. He sits on the Prison Service's Chaplaincy Council and is the Buddhist Adviser to H.M. Prison Service and NOMS (the National Offender Management Service). He is also Chairman of TBSUK (Theravada Buddhist Sangha in the UK). He sits on the SACRE (Standing Advisery Council for Religious Education) in both Warwickshire and Coventry and has led Warwick University Buddhist Society for a number of years
Venerable Ajahn Khemadhammo, OBE (alternatively Chao Khun Bhavanavitayt or Achaan Khemadhammo, occasionally with honorific titles Luang Por and Phra) is a Theravada Buddhist monk.
He was born in England in 1944. In 1971, after training at the Central School of Speech and Drama and Drama Centre London in Clerkenwell, London and practising as a professional actor, working for several years at the Royal National Theatre in London with Sir Laurence Olivier, he travelled to Thailand via the Buddhist holy places in India.
In December 1971 in Bangkok he became a novice monk and about a month later moved to Ubon Ratchathani to stay with Venerable Ajahn Chah Subhaddo (Chao Khun Bodhinyanathera) at Wat Nong Pah Pong. On the day before Vesakha Puja of
that year, 1972, he received upasampada as a bhikkhu, a fully ordained Buddhist monk.
In 1977, Venerable Khemadhammo returned to the U.K. and, after staying in London and Birmingham, set up a small monastery on the Isle of Wight. In 1984, at the invitation of a group of Buddhist meditators that he had been visiting monthly for some years, he moved to Banner Hill near Kenilworth and formed the Buddha-Dhamma Fellowship. In 1985, he moved to his current residence, the Forest Hermitage, a property in Warwickshire; in 1987, with considerable help from devotees in Thailand, this land was purchased by the Buddha-Dhamma Fellowship. A stupa was built there in 1988, known as the 'English Shwe Dagon'.
Ajahn Khemadhammo began Buddhist prison chaplaincy work in 1977. In 1985, with the help of others, Angulimala, the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy, was launched with him as its Spiritual Director.
Currently, Ajahn Khemadhammo lives with two other monks, continuing to visit prisons and teaching meditation both at his monastery and Warwick University.
Ajahn Khemadhammo was appointed an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the Queen's Birthday Honours, June 2003 for 'services to prisoners'. In December 2004, on the birthday of the King of Thailand, he was made a Chao Khun with the ecclesiastical title of Phra Bhavanavitayt; he was only the second foreign-born monk to receive such an honour.